Spencer P Jones. Spencer’s untimely and tragically premature passing was a lowlight of 2018. The only silver lining was the outpouring of love for the man, his music and his unbridled generosity. There will never be another like Spencer.
Beasts of Bourbon, Prince of Wales. Has there ever been a more emotional gig? Brian Hooper wheeled onto stage by nurses from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, plumes of smoke emanating from his oxygen mask. Spencer Jones, frail but determined to accompany his fellow Beast on stage for one last time. It was as sloppy as the Beasts once were, way back in the day. But it was beautiful.
Brian Hooper - "What Would I Know?" Recorded at Andrew McGee’s Empty Room property-cum-recording in Nagambie, Hooper’s reaction to the initial recording sessions was scathing. “It’s all shit,” he told me one day. But McGee saw enough in the recording to convince Hooper otherwise. A mixture of love, passion, pathos, self-loathing, resilience and gusto, this is a record brimming with emotional depth and musical complexity. RIP, Brian.
Jackson Briggs and the Heaters. James McCann put me onto these guys. Grinding country rock jams that should go on forever. They’ve got a new album out. Listen to it. Enjoy. Repeat.
The Breeders, Forum Theatre. It had been almost 25 years since I first saw The Breeders, at the Big Day Out in Adelaide, February 1994. On a Sunday night at the Forum Theatre The Breeders proved their every bit as vital as they were back in the day. I could listen to that riff in ‘I Just Wanna Get Along’ anytime.
I don't follow hardly anything new anymore. I turned 30 this year so my opinion probably isn't as relevant as it used to be. But here we go anyway. Until next year, your friend, James S. Doyle.
10. Hall and Oates- “Timeless Classics” (compilation) Where should we start? The Dune Rats? Violent Soho? Clowns? No, lets just skip the popular upper-middle class bro-rock of 2017 and go straight to the heart of rock n roll. Re-packaged compilations that come out just in time for Christmas $10 bins.
If you are looking for a starting point for your Hall and Oates collection, this may as well be it. “Maneater” “You Make My dreams” “Rich Girl”.. they are all here, plus deeper cuts such as “She’s Gone” and “Sara Smile”. A must for fans of Philly Grindcore.
9. The Afghan Whigs- In Spades (album) I nearly forgot about this one. One of the rare cases of a band that goes away for a long time then somehow comes back better than they used to be. I would describe this album as "sad, yet gangsta AF" The internet says that this album has "generally favourble reviews" and I tend to agree with that also.
Finally extracted from the vaults after 12 years (it was recorded on a day off during an Australian tour in 2004) this was released globally for Record Store Day yesterday. “Buried and Dead” is the killer Masters Apprentices song was a staple in the Birdman set at the time, while the similarly reverred “Ballad” was recorded for a since-shelved Alice Cooper tribute on Sub Pop.
There's always been a No Man's Land between meticulousness and spontaneity about Birdman in the studio. Maybe meticulousness won but the band wasn’t all that fussed about the output of this recording session at the time.
The A side is the pick. Delivered with the sort of intensity you’d expect, it’s highlighted by entwining Tek-Masuak guitars and a roaring stop-start feel. “Ballad of Dwight Fry” has a stab but doesn’t quite hit the mark; Rob Younger’s vocal is muted, whether by range or intent, and the dynamism this line-up was capableof doesn't come through. Cock an ear to the live 1976 version floating around on YouTube for proof.
(It'll never happen but the propsect of a box set of Birdman singles of versions of songs they've covered live is a tantalising idea. The source material IS out there.)
Of course it's the limited edition 7" you need if you're a fan. Be warned though: It carried one of the heftiest Record Store Day price tags ($A28) around. That could be a gouge (such things aren't unknown on Record Store Day) or it could just reflect the cost of having it sent from the pressing plant to the label and on to shops in short time.
Kevin K has been plying this trade for 40 years and almost as many albums. His latest American crew, The Krazy Kats, are in synch with his modus operandi of gritty but melodic rock and roll.
As the title reveals, Kevin's latest studio album takes a generous leaf out of the New York Dolls book while slyly alluding to his longtime adopted home of Florida.
Kevin K was always going to end up back on Rankoutsider, the label run by ex-Lazy Cowgirls frontman Pat Todd. Like Todd’s current band, The Rank Outsiders, the label specialises in down-to-earth, streetwise rock and roll music - of which Kevin K is the embodiment.
If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know that there’s a distinctive Kevin K Sound: It’s no frills, guitar-laden punk rock, with a very tough edge, informed by life in the dives and gutters of New York City’s Lower East Side. Kevin’s plaintive vocal sits oddly but comfortably with the gritty sound of his bands.
Black Leather Soul - Angus Khan (Nickel and Dime Records)
Hello from the Farmhouse, Barflies. This is one from the archives, originally issued in 2009, but this most rocking album has been re-released in July and is already on all good music streaming services with a extra track, "Silver and Green" (acoustic.) I, for one, love this tune and the album.
Angus Khan was formed in the summer of 2006 by three Streetwalkin' Cheetahs and two B Movie Rats in sunny California. They were Frank Meyer and Bruce Duff on guitars, Dino Everrett on bass, Derek Christenson (vocals) and Andy Baker of the B Movie Rats on drums. What a cracking line-up.
That's some pedigree and they didn't disappoint. This is a hard rock album that just kicks from the first track, the wonderful "Midnight Moses".
These tunes are a must for any Barfly who loves Rock 'n' Roll played hard with witty lyrics. "Call Me Motherfucker", "Hot Pants", "Bop City", "Chainsaw Betty" and "Scene Bitch" are perfect examples of what I love in a rock band: Don't take yourself too seriously and have some fun. Angus Khan most certainly does both in abundance.
"Black Leather Soul" takes listeners on a journey of stomping riffs. Oh, those guitars just blast out of the speakers. No bullshit here. It's a must have album.
I was lucky enough yesterday to have a conversation with Frank Myer about why he decided to branch out from the Cheatahs and form Angus Khan. Just quickly before I let Frank loose on the public, you should know that they derived their name from Angus of AC/DC and Genghis Khan, leader of the Mongol Empire. So name alone, you know this album ain't for pussies.
So I'll let Frank explain the origins of the band and I'm most grateful for the time he took to speak to a dirt farmer from Dimboola, Victoria
When the Cheetahs and the Rats both broke up, Derek and I had been plotting on doing a heavier band for some time. We wanted to do something kinda like Zodiac Mindwarp meets Turbonegro - a really dirty sleazy biker metal music with dashes of punk and glam.
At the time I was also writing for Cherie Currie of the Runaways on a solo album that would return her to her Runaways roots. Unfortunately that album never ended up getting done so a bunch of the songs like "Scene Bitch" and "Big Balls" we just took and continued that direction, making it more extreme and as we continued writing new songs.
When we were writing songs for Angus Khan we where listening to a lot of music likeAlice Cooper, Aerosmith, Nashville Pussy, ZZ Top and evenMegadeth andMetallica. We wanted a sound to be steeped in '70s hard rock but with a metal twist.
There's a lot of fun and cheap humour in the lyrics; We wanted the music to be fun and funny, with lyrics that were cool yet ridiculously over the top.
Each member of the band had a character. I dressed like a Army guy and went by the name Sgt Rock. Our biker singer went by Dirty D, our bass player was Droogie from the movie "Clockwork Orange', the drummer was Tarzan and the other guitarist was a '70s rock god. We all dressed the part and kept the whole thing as over the top as possible.
So Barflies, this is a must for lovers of hard-riffing, good time, over-the-top rock 'n' roll. Download or stream this most wonderful album on Spotify, Apple or Amazon music, and if you're not familiar with The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs, give them a listen also. They just kick fucking arse.
Six Beers Please Barman AND keep them coming
From The Farmhouse, enjoy your week and don't run out of bog rolls.
Here’s news for those who thought Jeff Dahl had put his guitar in a rack and drawn an end to his prolific punk-glam career. He’s back with a new album - and it sounds like he never went away.
Dahl had been laying low with protracted health issues since pulling up tent pegs at his Arizona desert digs and moving back to his own (and his wife’s) childhood home of the Hawaiian Islands. Prior to slipping off the public radar eight years ago, Dahl was a force of rock and roll nature, turning out a string of abrasive, hard-rocking records and publishing one of the world’s greatest magazines, Sonic Iguana.
This one's an undiluted broadcast of a red-hot show by the Coop and the boys at the Mar Y Sol Pop Festival in Puerto Rico in 1972. That's to say, the original Alice Cooper Band, and not the crack session players and paid employees who followed.
Crank it. What you're hearing is the Alice Cooper Band at the peak of their powers. They're band in all senses of the word and a gnat's dick away from world domination with the release of their "School's Out" album.
The back story is the band was on a festival bill in Puerto Rico with the likes of Al Kooper, the Allman Bros, Emerson. Lake and Palmer, the Faces and David Peel and went on at 5am. You can't tell from the energy levels. A review at the time describes a festival beset by chaos, numbing humidity and massive financial losses. They would say that, wouldn't they. Let's hope the bands got paid.
In news just to hand, Radio Birdman is releasing two previously unheard tracks on 7' vinyl - the Master's Apprentices "Buried and Dead", and Alice Cooper's "The Ballad of Dwight Fry".
Both cover versions were originally recorded in 2004 at Hothouse Studio in Melbourne, and recently remixed and mastered. The single will be a Record Store Day special so make enquiries with your local emporium of vinyl.
Former Lubricated Goat frontman Stu Spasm (real name Stuart Gray) is the subject of a new short documentary, which focuses on his work as a sculptor of creepy cult figurines. Part of a series called New York Hustle, which was produced by New York-based Aussie expats Angelica Von Helle and Matt Reekie, and you can watch the doco after the fold below.
Spasm, who left Australia in the early ’90s and has been based in NYC for the best part of three decades, continues to make music with his latest outfit The Art Gray Noizz Quintet while supplementing his income by making and selling his sculptures. Sculptures shown in the film include Alice Cooper, Suzi Quatro, Charles Manson, Rowland S. Howard and Leadbelly.
Spasm spoke with Danger Coolidge about his work as a visual artist.
Some of us have had a lot of problems forgiving Alice Cooper the man for ditching Alice Cooper the band. The first two Alice Cooper band albums, “Pretties For You” and “Easy Action” were fairly decent if you go in for a bit of whacky hippy burlesque. They have their fans but, truth be told, they needed a firmer hand than Frank Zappa if they were going to amount to anything more than a sideshow.
Next came five albums of perfection. Even the much maligned “Muscle of Love” shits over anything that tried to pass itself off as competition. I know we're all Stooges and Dolls fans here but the Coop actually owned the mainstream throughout the early ‘70s.
Well, they were a shit hot band with great song-writing, a genius producer and a grand guignol stage show. How could they miss?
2022 was another year that was hampered by the pandemic; while we are seeing green shoots of recovery, the scars are still pretty deep. I’ve spent most of the year doing the usual stuff, so this is some of what has poked it’s head up in my rounds.
1. Guitar sales 2022 wasn’t all bad news for rock and roll. It seems that the market for new guitars has nearly reached $3b globally… which is a helluva lot of new Fender Strats. I know I’ve been doing my bit, but it does mean that the death knell for guitar based rock and/or roll may have been premature.
2. Young Rock Renaissance On the back of those sales we’ve been seeing an increase in younger rock acts taking up the mantle. While the standard bearers of the Aussie bogan rock scene, Amyl & the Sniffersand The Chats, have gone from strength to strength, I’m seeing a lot of younger acts finding their feet on the live scene in Sydney. Special mentions to Euterpe, Polly and of course, out of self interest, Pocketwatch.